Critic's Choice for the week of February 15-21, 2006 

Cathartic Americana, grime, and smartass sermonizing.

THWUMPING HOUSE

Oakland's Club Oasis provides the ideal setting for house music, considering its architectural design: those dusky, narrow corridors are perfect for brushing up against other bodies, and that low ceiling is like a dark sky folding in. Still, the venue has always veered in a different direction, best known for Afro-Caribbean-themed parties featuring DJs with stylish capoeira headwraps and impossible-to-pronounce names. But that's about to change, now that house is making a huge comeback in the local club scene. Piggybacking on the successful "Brothers and Sisters" party at Luka's Taproom, Oasis is launching a new monthly house event Sunday night. Dubbed Culture, it will feature DJs Leonard, Antonio, and Jayson Kincaid spinning funky, groove-oriented beats with just enough thwump to get right under your skin. The party kicks off at 10 p.m. and costs $5. 510-763-0404. (Rachel Swan)

CINEMATic minimalism

When composer Philip Glass teamed with filmmaker Godfrey Reggio to create the haunting 1983 "documentary" film Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, both the visual and sonic imagery offered innovative breakthroughs copied to death by lesser talents ever since. The pair followed with two more films (forming a Qatsi trilogy) over the next twenty years; all three will be screened while accompanied onstage by the electronic Philip Glass Ensemble over three days this weekend at SF's Davies Symphony Hall. See Koyaanisqatsi Friday (8 p.m.), Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation Saturday (8 p.m.), and Naqoyaqatsi: Life as War Sunday (7 p.m.). $19-$39 for individual tickets, $49-$99 for the full weekend. 415-392-2545. (Larry Kelp)

CATHARTIC AMERICANA

Tom Russell has created his own niche with dozens of albums exploring the arid emotional wilderness of the great American underclass. Monday night at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage, he'll probably be playing a lot of tunes from his latest opus, Love and Fear, one of the most personal albums he's ever cut. Longtime pal Andrew Hardin will add his guitar to the mix. $20.50 advance, $21.50 door. 510-548-1761 or TheFreight.org (j. poet)

GRIME

With all the praises recently heaped on the London-raised grime emcee Lady Sovereign, it's not surprising that the UK gutter scene -- kind of an art-punk/drum 'n' bass tryst with tricked-out garage studio effects and incomprehensible lyrics -- is gaining so much momentum in the global market. For a chance to hear the cutting edge in grime, check out SF's Club Anú this Friday, where the eight-man DJ collective Brothers in Grime (B.I.G.) will be spinning garage and dub-house straight from the dirty back alleys and Tube stations of London. The event kicks off at 9 p.m. and costs nothing. Anu-Bar.com (R.S.)

SMART-ASS SERMONIZING

If you like a whole lotta silliness with your boogie-woogie blues, then you'll want to join the faithful of the First House of Polyester Worship for the healing humor of Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, a smartass pianist and orator whose snappy sermons on culture, politics, and gender issues will convert all but the über-PC among you. Thursday night at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. (Sam Prestianni)

CLASSICAL

The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra offers a free post-Valentine treat this Sunday, when the superb genre-crossing cellist Matt Haimovitz joins conductor Benjamin Simon and friends in Berkeley's perpetual First Congregational Church. The matinee features C.P.E. Bach's Cello Concerto No. 1, daddy Bach's great Suite No. 5 in C minor for Unaccompanied Cello, the world premiere of Richard Aldag's Elegy for Cello and Chamber Orchestra, and Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony for Fifteen Solo Instruments. Free, 3 p.m., 415-248-1640. (Jason Victor Serinus)

FORMIDABLY ARTSY VARIETY

Tap into your inner hipster this weekend in SF via the Lab's 22 Acts in 2 Days, a birthday benefit bash featuring the crème de la crème of Bay Area fringe culture -- cheeky indie-chick jump-ropers, smart-alecky gagsters, formidably artsy analogue geeks, and acerbic spoken-word poets -- plus just about everyone else who hangs out in the top echelons of the low-rent community. Brent Weinbach, Youth Speaks, Double Dutchess, Eats Tapes, Baysic Project, and Diamond Daggers are among the dozens slated to perform at this can't-miss event, which kicks off Thursday at 7 p.m. and continues at the same time Friday. Tickets cost $12-$22. TheLab.org (R.S.)

JAZZ VOCALS

Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes inaugurates a monthly concert series Saturday afternoon with San Francisco jazz diva Denise Perrier. The series showcases unsung resident talent in the beautiful Julia Morgan-designed surroundings; blessed with a voice carved out of the influence of Louis Armstrong and Dinah Washington, Perrier will christen this adventure by showcasing material from her critically acclaimed Blue Monday Party album. $15, 2 p.m. 510-502-1485. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

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